Johnnie Armijo passed away on March 9th at the age of 94. The owner of the longest -running family grocery store in Santa Fe, Armijo’s passing represents the end of an era for the Spanish community. Armijo was born in Santa Fe on October 27, 1929. His wife, Bertha Baca, was at his side for more than 70 years. The couple has 9 children, 17 grandchildren and more than 15 great-grandchildren. Throughout the years his wife, children and grandchildren have helped him at the store. With the passing of the family patriarch, the family plans to keeps Johnnie’s Cash store running.
Eight Generations and Counting…
Located at 420 Camino Don Miguel, Johnnie’s Cash Store has been in business since 1946 when his father, Orlando Armijo, first opened. Since that time, eight generations of families have traded with the Armijo family. “The viejitos have all died and most of the local families have moved away. The area has really changed, but the grandchildren, nephews and nieces from the old neighborhood still stop in to say hello,” Armijo told me during an interview in 2008. Situated on a small side street off of posh Canyon Road, Santa Fe’s little-known family run business now caters to the Air B&Bs that populate the north side of town.
From Rabbits to Cameras
In the old days, Johnnie’s Cash Store carried boots, radios, cameras and leather jackets along with fresh meat, produce and canned goods. As a teenager, Armijo made and sold root beer in front of his parent’s home. He also bred rabbits, which he sold to people in the market for that delicacy. In 1944 he helped his father build their store one adobe at a time. During those early years, his father minded the store while Armijo learned all aspects of the grocery business. He started out at Batrite’s Grocery, then went on to be an assistant manager at Piggly Wiggly and Safeway. Armijo retired from Safeway and took over the family business full time in 1981 after his father died and his mother Lorencita Martínez, needed his help.